Senior Gabby Wassel and junior Gabby Para, two players who have started since their freshman seasons, will be counted on to lead an inexperienced Pittston Area field hockey team into the season.
Wassel will be at the center of the defensive unit in her fourth season as starter.
“We’ll look to her for leadership,” said first-year head coach Kaitlyn Connors, who moves up from an assistant’s role. “She’s one of our captains. She kind of keeps everything in control back there.
“She has a great field vision and she’s good at positioning people.”
Connors said Wassel will be an important part of the team’s penalty corner defense.
Para moves from forward to an offensive midfield position for her third season as a starter.
As Connors tries to find more offense, she has a midfield built around former forwards and has talented youngsters taking over up front.
Kaehler Kivler and Izzy Mancini, two juniors who were reserve forwards in the past, will be at two of the three midfield spots behind Para.
“They’re really strong and able to transition quickly from defense to offense,” Connors said.
Freshman Mia Marriggi won the other midfield spot by showing off her stick skills and field awareness in the preseason.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Bucci, a former Pittston Area junior high player, has transferred back to the school after seeing playing time as a freshman on the Wyoming Seminary varsity. She will be in the middle of the forward line.
Freshman Tori Para, who has shown the stick skills to dodge defenders, and sophomore Jianna Eike, who has impressed Connors with her aggressiveness around the cage, likely will be the wings.
“Our forwards are young,” Connors said. “None have started before.”
There is more experience on defense when junior Hannah Waleski is also a returning starter.
Sophomore Amber Jenkins, a junior varsity player a year ago, is likely to join Wassel and Waleski on defense.
Avery Strucke, who had some experience as a midfielder and defender, made the move to goalkeeper to fill a need for the team in her senior year.
Connors praised Strucke’s early efforts, which included a shutout in a scrimmage.
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